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10 Shows Like 'Better Call Saul' to Watch Next

'Saul' may be gone, but you can keep the tense drama watching going with these 10 other series.

Allison Bowsher
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Rhea Seehorn and Bob Odenkirk in 'Better Call Saul'

AMC

There's a common idea that sequels are never as good as the originals and often, that's true. The same could be said for spin-offs, with many shows floundering through a few seasons before silently flatlining long before reaching the same potential as their predecessors. That's not the case with Better Call Saul (Metascore: 86), though. The series, which just came to an end after six tense seasons, has managed a seemingly impossible feat: to stand on its own laurels without simply being known as "that Breaking Bad show."

Of course, Better Call Saul did start off as "that Breaking Bad show," with lead character Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) first appearing on the critically acclaimed Vince Gilligan-created crime drama that ran from 2008 to 2013. Better Call Saul follows con man-turned-lawyer Jimmy McGill as his career takes several hits, eventually leading him to rebrand himself as Saul Goodman, a lawyer who has a penchant for cheesy commercials and helping criminals continue to enjoy the profits of their illegal business. 

Better Call Saul can be enjoyed by viewers who never watched Breaking Bad, but for those who were fans of the original AMC series, there are several callbacks, Easter eggs, and many familiar faces, even including cameos from Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) themselves. 

Better Call Saul takes place before, during, and after the timeframe of Breaking Bad, with a handful of characters, including Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) and Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) getting their stories expanded, as well. Like Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul is a tragedy that doesn't end without its protagonist having to pay for his crimes, but the show more than stands on its own with how it goes about its storytelling, as well as with the character dynamics it creates, especially the core relationship of the show, Jimmy and Kim (Rhea Seehorn).

If you're looking for more critically acclaimed crime dramas like Better Call Saul, check out these 10 shows to watch next, ranked by Metascore.


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'The Wire'

Courtesy of HBO/Apple TV

The Wire

Metascore: 91
Best for: Fans of gritty dramas with a conscience
Where to watch:

, Google Play, , iTunes,
Seasons: 5

This gritty drama set in Baltimore, Md. has left behind a legacy of being one of the greatest series of all time (check out that Metascore!). In Better Call Saul, Goodman's caseload helps to shine a light on issues plaguing American cities. So too does The Wire, which takes a different topic each season, including drugs, local government, and education, and uses its diverse lineup of characters, including police officers and criminals, to examine the topic from several viewpoints. The show is anchored by a strong cast of then-unknowns, including Dominic WestIdris Elba, and Michael K. Williams.

"The dialogue is sharply funny and richly colloquial, and the actors are a constant astonishment." — Cliff Froehlich, St. Louis Post-Dispatch


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'The Americans'

Courtesy of FX/Apple TV

The Americans

Metascore: 89
Best for: Fans of spy thrillers set within a historical context
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes,
Seasons: 6

Not all characters are as they seem on Better Call Saul, with professional criminals often using legal businesses as fronts for their unscrupulous fields of work. In The Americans, viewers are constantly trying to figure out which characters are truly who they say they are, with government informants and international spies creating thrilling scenarios. The series is led by Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, who play married KGB intelligence officers that are living undercover in America in the 1980s with their two children. Their neighbor and best friend works for the FBI, the Cold War is still raging in Regan's U.S., and even spies deal with marriage and parenting issues. So yeah, there's no shortage of drama on The Americans, a series that has won multiple Emmys, a Golden Globe for Best Drama, and two Peabody Awards.

"There is nothing that is the equal of The Americans on TV screens now." — Dorothy Rabinowitz, The Wall Street Journal


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'Barry'

HBO

Barry

Metascore: 88
Best for: Fans of dark comedies and acting legends (Henry Winkler!)
Where to watch:

, Google Play, , iTunes,
Seasons: 3 (so far)

Better Call Saul's Odenkirk was best known for his comedic roles before taking on the persona of a Goodman, allowing him to pull from his background and help find the humor in the show's darkness. This trait is also found on Barry, which was co-created by and stars Saturday Night Live alum Bill Hader. Like many in Los Angeles, Barry (Hader) has dreams of being an actor but still relies on his non-entertainment day job to make ends meet until he gets his big break. There's one big difference though: Barry is working as a hitman. Both Barry and Better Call Saul take stereotypical TV criminals and develop them into multi-dimensional, fleshed-out characters.

"In an era of TV when it seems like anything is possible, Barry proves that by honing in on a specific narrative with razor sharp focus and excellent craftsmanship, you can stand out." — Adam Chitwood, Collider


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'Breaking Bad'

Courtesy of AMC/Apple TV

Breaking Bad

Metascore: 87
Best for: Viewers who can handle a tense drama
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Netflix,
Seasons: 5

There would be no Better Call Saul without Breaking Bad, so it was a must for our list. The drug-fueled series that started it all originated from an unlikely source: a law-abiding science teacher named Walter White (Bryan Cranston) who has just been handed a devastating cancer diagnosis. To ensure his wife (Anna Gunn) and children are provided for after his death, Walter enlists the help of former student Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) to help him make some money selling meth. The pair earn more than just a few bucks, building a drug empire and making a few partners (including lawyer Saul Goodman), and a lot of enemies along the way. Cranston won four Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Emmys, Paul took home three Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Emmys, Gunn won two Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Emmys, and the critically acclaimed series itself took home two Outstanding Drama Series Emmys. It also returned in 2019 for the Netflix follow-up fifilm El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie.

"A radical type of television, and also a very strange kind of must-watch: a show that you dread and crave at the same time." — Emily Nussbaum, The New Yorker


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'Boardwalk Empire'

Courtesy of HBO/Apple TV

Boardwalk Empire

Metascore: 83
Best for: Fans of fictional dramas based on real people
Where to watch:

, Google Play, , iTunes,
Seasons: 5

Atlantic City's illegal booze trade during the 1920s may be a far cry from Better Call Saul's New Mexico drug cartels in the early 2000s, but what drives criminal activity is largely unchanged between centuries: power and money. Steve Buscemi plays Enoch "Nucky" Thompson, a character based on the real corrupt politician who ran both the legal and illegal sides of New Jersey for years, in Boardwalk Empire. The pilot alone cost around $18 million to make and was directed by Martin Scorsese, which raises expectations for the quality of crime drama about to unfold. It's safe to say the series, which won 20 Emmys and a Golden Globe for Best Drama, delivers.

"Boardwalk Empire has everything you'd expect in an HBO drama — sharply drawn characters, large-scale stories intercut with intimate moments and a sense that you couldn't find something like it anywhere else on the guide." — Rick Porter, Zap2it


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'Mr. Robot'

Courtesy of UCP/Apple TV

Mr. Robot

Metascore: 80
Best for: Fans of mind-bending dramas with a focus on technology
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes,
Seasons: 4

Mr. Robot takes the terrifying idea of having one's personal computer hacked and turns it up by about 100. The Peabody-winning series stars Rami Malek as Elliot Alderson, a vigilante hacker who spends his days working for a cybersecurity company and his nights attacking his company's biggest client in an effort to eradicate consumer debt. Elliot, whose mental state is often in question in the series due to his depression, social anxiety, and drug use, works alongside an anarchist known as Mr. Robot (Christian Slater). As with Better Call Saul, the critically acclaimed Mr. Robot is a thrilling drama that can leave viewers questioning whether to root for characters whose morals and illegal activities often diverge.

"Told with typical confidence and flair but with a new note of humility too, the season, at least in its early stages, represents a high note for one of the decade's signature prestige dramas." — Daniel D'Addario, Variety


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'The Flight Attendant'

HBO Max

The Flight Attendant

Metascore: 77
Best for: Fans of murder mysteries with unreliable protagonists
Where to watch:

, , , ,
Seasons: 2 (so far)

Like Saul Goodman, The Flight Attendant's Cassie (Kaley Cuoco) isn't always an easy lead character to root for, with her alcohol-clouded decisions often leading to bad choices that put herself and all those around her directly in the path of danger. But also like Saul, Cassie's intentions are typically good. A flight attendant who isn't hiding her alcohol addiction nearly as well as she thinks she is, Cassie finds her world turned upside down when she wakes up in a Thailand hotel room next to a man she met on her flight. Did we mention he's been brutally murdered? Thus begins Cassie's quest to wade through her blurry memories and piece together the best date/worst night of her life, while also evading the same people who killed him and may now be coming for her. The second season then pushes the danger level up even higher by having her moonlight as a CIA asset and try to evade someone who is framing her for a new murder.

"[Cuoco] gives charm, wit and true confidence to a character who would otherwise be a hot mess we would neither care about nor believe in. It's joyfully astonishing to see her spread her wings — and fly." — Lucy Mangan, The Guardian


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'Narcos'

Netflix

Narcos

Metascore: 77
Best for: Viewers who are interested in the true-life story of Pablo Escobar's takedown
Where to watch: Netflix
Seasons: 3

Drug cartels are a big part of Better Call Saul and are the main inspiration for Narcos. The Netflix series focuses specifically on the Colombian cartel, following the rise and fall of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar (Wagner Moura). In Narcos, viewers see the cartel from Pablo's viewpoint, as well as from the view of two real-life DEA agents Steve Murphy (Boyd Holbrook) and Javier Peña (Pedro Pascal), who help bring down Escobar's empire. Set in Colombia and California, the series is a dramatized look at the real story behind the people who profited from one of the biggest drug rings in history and the people who risked their lives to destroy it.

"The omniscient-narrator device works very well for a complex story spanning many years and varied sets of players." — Nancy DeWolf Smith, The Wall Street Journal


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'Sons of Anarchy'

Courtesy of FX/Apple TV

Sons of Anarchy

Metascore: 75
Best for: Biker fans who want to live dangerously vicariously through their TV screens
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes,
Seasons: 7

Just as Better Call Saul pulls back the curtains on the criminal underbelly of guns and drugs in the U.S., so too does Kurt Sutter's drama Sons of Anarchy. The series follows members of a fictional motorcycle club that takes inspiration from the Hell's Angels, even casting several real-life members. The California-based club is headed by Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam), who deals with conflicts within the group, manages his personal relationships with his mother, played by Katey Sagal, and his girlfriend, played by Maggie Siff, and tries to ensure everyone he knows isn't murdered by rival gang members. It's a lot of pressure. Like Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, Sons of Anarchy also inspired its own spin-off, Mayans M.C.

"It believes in the story it's telling and expects everyone watching the series not just to have a good time, but to commit. If every drama series had a tenth as much passion, TV would be a far more interesting place." — Matt Zoller Seitz, Salon


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'Ozark'

Netflix

Ozark

Metascore: 69
Best for: Fans of dark dramas and excellent ensemble casts
Where to watch: Netflix
Seasons: 4

Much like Breaking Bad's Walter White and Better Call Saul's Saul, Ozark's Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman, who also executive produces and directs the series) is an everyman who suddenly finds his relatively mundane life upended by his accidental involvement in the drug cartel. Marty's small scale money laundering for a Mexican drug cartel has big results when he's forced to move his family, including his wife, played by Laura Linney, to Missouri in order to continue laundering money for criminals in return for his family's protection. In addition to their portrayal of drug cartels, both Ozark and Better Call Saul are proof that lead actors primarily known for comedy roles can get really, really dark.

"A chilly, thrilling narco saga told from the perspective of the Mob's money launderer, Ozark deserves its place among the very finest TV takes on American dope, crime and corruption." — Lou Thomas, Empire